Al Jazeera journalists appear in Egypt court, see trial adjourned

Caged in the defendants’ dock, Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed must wait till March 24 for next hearing

Australian journalist Peter Greste, third from right, and his colleagues inside the defendants’ cage on Wednesday during their trial for allegedly supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.
Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

The trial of three Al Jazeera English journalists jailed in Egypt has been adjourned until March 24 and the defendants remain in jail on charges of spreading false news and belonging to a "terrorist group."

Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, who have been held for more than two months, appeared in court for the second time on Wednesday when witnesses for the prosecution were heard.

Al Jazeera rejects the charges against its staff and continues to call for their release.

“We are again disappointed that Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed were not released from prison today. The charges against our staff are without any substance and totally unjustified. We refute all the allegations labeled against our colleagues," Al Anstey, managing director of Al Jazeera English, said.

"Mohamed, Peter and Baher are world-class journalists, and were simply doing the job of journalism covering and challenging all sides of the story in Egypt. To continue to keep them behind bars after such a long time in detention is simply outrageous, so we continue to call for their immediate release."

Correspondent Greste, an award-winning journalist, Egypt bureau chief Fahmy and producer Mohamed have been detained since they were taken from their hotel in Cairo on Dec. 29.

Abdullah al-Shami from Al Jazeera's Arabic channel has been detained for more than six months without charge and has been on a hunger strike since Jan. 23.

The network is currently not allowed to report from Egypt.

A producer of broadcaster CNN, inside the makeshift courtroom in Tora prison where the trial is taking place, said the three defendants had appeared in the dock, initially wearing handcuffs, but were uncuffed after Fahmy, suffering from a shoulder injury, requested it.

Fahmy told the court his right shoulder "has been broken for 10 weeks and I sleep on the floor" in a cell.

"I ask you to free me on the guarantee from the Canadian Embassy that I will not leave the country," he said, according to an Agence France-Presse report from the trial.

Journalists at 40 locations across the globe staged vigils in solidarity with the jailed Al Jazeera staff on Feb. 27 in a global day of action, highlighting the need for press freedom. Al Jazeera America created a global social media campaign.

All Al Jazeera staff gathered in the newsroom of its Doha headquarters for a silent protest, and Greste was elected chairman of the Foreign Correspondents Association of East Africa in absentia.

Institutions including the White House, the European Union and the United Nations have called for the release of the journalists, and for press freedoms to be upheld.

Freedom of speech in Egypt has been the focus of mounting global concern since the government adopted a hard-line approach toward journalists. The country was ranked the third-deadliest destination for journalists in 2013 by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

“We have expressed concerns about the detainment and trial of Al Jazeera staff and journalists, as well as others, and we have expressed those concerns directly to the government of Egypt,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said in February. "We have strongly urged the government to drop these charges and release those journalists who have been detained."

Al Jazeera

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